Angel Shark Conservation Network

A community working to better protect angel sharks

 

Angel Shark Conservation Network

A community working to better protect angel sharks

 

Angel Shark Conservation Network

A community working to better protect angel sharks

WHAT ARE ANGEL SHARKS?

Angel sharks are flat-bodied sharks which can grow up to 2.4m in length and are normally found submerged in sandy habitats in coastal waters. Angel sharks (Squatinidae) rank as the second most threatened family of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) in the world. Three species are found in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, all listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and are the current focus of our efforts given their threat status:

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Angelshark

Squatina squatina

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Smoothback Angelshark

Squatina oculata

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Sawback Angelshark

Squatina aculeata

Once widespread throughout coastal areas of these regions, angel sharks have suffered steep declines throughout their historic range. Information on Sawback Angelshark and Smoothback Angelshark is severely lacking, however the Canary Islands have been identified as a unique stronghold for the Angelshark, as this species is still regularly sighted.

THE THREAT

Fisheries

Intensification of demersal fishing practices over the last 100 years has been the major cause of angel shark decline; they are still accidentally caught in commercial & recreational gear.

Habitat and Pollution

Habitat degradation through pollution, anchor damage, coastal development and marine infrastructure, particularly at critical angel shark areas (e.g. nursery grounds, aggregation areas etc.).

Human interaction

Disturbance of angel sharks in shallow coastal areas by beach users and divers – whether intentional or accidental.

Legislation

Lack of appropriate legislation to protect angel sharks or poor enforcement of existing legislation.

Little Research

Lack of data on life history, distribution and habitat requirements to inform conservation measures.

Community awareness

Little awareness of the presence of angel sharks and their Critically Endangered status.

CONSERVATION ACTION

In 2016, two Angel Shark Conservation Workshops were completed to identify the key actions needed to be taken to overcome the major threats to angel shark populations. A multifaceted group of divers, fishers, scientists, NGOs, shark experts and government officials attended the workshops to develop two key documents.

EASTERN ATLANTIC AND MEDITERRANEAN ANGEL SHARK CONSERVATION STRATEGY

Vision:
Angel sharks in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean are restored to robust populations and safeguarded throughout their natural range

Aim:
The Strategy provides a framework for improved protection of the three Critically Endangered angel sharks present in these regions. In particular, to improve the overall profile of angel sharks; increase the number of sightings reported; generate a better understanding of current distribution; contribute to IUCN Red List re-assessments and identify new collaboration opportunities to increase conservation action.

ANGEL SHARK ACTION PLAN FOR THE CANARY ISLANDS

Vision:
Angelsharks in the Canary Islands are abundant and protected in their unique stronghold

Aim:
The protection of the Angelshark in its last remaining stronghold is of upmost importance. The Action Plan identifies and explains in detail the key objectives and actions needed to achieve our Vision. It is intended to promote coordinated conservation action for this species in the Canary Islands. All organisations and individuals are invited to help or lead the implementation of actions.

If you have supplementary information about angel sharks, please complete the questionnaire.

Please help us protect Angel Sharks in the Canary Islands, East Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea by reporting your sighting to the Angel Shark Sightings Map. This information will be shared amongst the Partners and Collaborators to better understand and conserve Angel Sharks in the region.

ANGEL SHARK CONSERVATION NETWORK (ASCN)

The success of the Action Plan and Strategy is ultimately down to the individuals and organisations working together towards the common Visions.
All interested parties are invited to join the ASCN, help to deliver the objectives laid out in each document and receive updates on angel shark conservation news.

The purpose of the ASCN is to:

Facilitate dialogue and information sharing on all matters concerning angel shark conservation, including collaborative projects and joint funding opportunities.

Host an email-group to send updates, providing information on activities in progress or completed as part of the Action Plan or Strategy.

Ensure that consistent and clear messages regarding angel shark conservation is delivered to the wider community.

Encourage a core group of individuals/organisations to attend a follow-on Angel Shark Conservation Workshop in 2020

Join our multidisciplinary Angel Shark Conservation Network (ASCN) and help us to protect these Critically Endangered sharks.


Sign up to receive further email communication about Angelshark conservation.






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WHO’S INVOLVED

The following organisations work alongside a number of individuals as part of the ASCN.
The organisations in this list will be updated quarterly with additional members.

PROGRESS TO DATE

The Angel Shark Conservation Network (ASCN) is working with partners to deliver actions set out in the Action Plan and Strategy. Major achievements are shown below. Full details of angel shark conservation news and research are sent to the ASCN through quarterly e-bulletins.

DEVELOPMENT OF ANGEL SHARK SIGHTINGS MAP (Objective 5.1 of the Action Plan)

A collaborative sightings map was developed in December 2016 to have a central coordinated system to gather sightings of angel sharks across their range.

NEW PAPER PUBLISHED ON ANGELSHARK ECOLOGY IN THE CANARY ISLANDS (Objective 5.1 of the Action Plan)

The Angel Shark Project used data collected through POSEIDON (a citizen science program to collect marine biodiversity data in the Canary Islands), to identify the distribution patterns, habitat use and population structure of the Angelshark (Squatina squatina) in its last stronghold.

NEW PROJECT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ANGELSHARK POPULATIONS IN WELSH WATERS (Objective 1.4 and Objective 2.1 of the Strategy)

The Angel Shark Project and Natural Resources Wales are asking fishers across Wales to report any accidental captures of Angelsharks and follow best practice guidance to ensure Angelsharks are safely return to the water unharmed.

RESOURCES

REPORTS/PUBLICATIONS

  • Best Practice to Release Angelsharks if Accidentally Caught (English | Español)
    Developed by the Angel Shark Project and recreational fishers in the Canary Islands to reduce Angelshark mortality after accidental capture.
  • Angelshark Sea Angling Advisory (English)
    Developed by the Shark Trust to show protected status of Angelsharks in UK waters
  • Angelshark Commercial Fisheries Advisory (English)
    Developed by the Shark Trust to show protected status of Angelsharks in UK waters
  • Angel Shark Project Leaflet (English | Español)
    Information leaflet on the Angel Shark Project and how you can be involved
  • Welsh fisher information leaflet (English | Cymraeg)
    Developed by Angel Shark Project, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Fishermen’s Association and Shark Trust to raise awareness of Angelsharks in Welsh waters and ensure they are released unharmed if accidentally caught.

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CONTACT US



Photos used on this webpage c. Carlos Suarez and Michael J Sealey; video used on this webpage c. Felipe Ravina Olivares